by Skip Cohen
I recently found a series of posts I'd written many years ago, and this one hit me as being just as relevant today, as it was back then. In fact, it might be more relevant today, since the pandemic has us talking and sharing more online.
I love it when somebody tells me, "I want to share something with you, but you've got to keep it just between us!" I smile and usually say, "If you're really uncomfortable, don't tell me, but be assured nothing ever gets passed on." I'm proud of the fact I've never passed any of those secrets on, but here's my point.
If you have something private and it would hurt somebody to repeat it, keep your mouth shut and keep it confidential. I know every time somebody tells me to "please keep it quiet," that I'm easily the 100th person who's been told. Add to the number of people who already heard the big secret before me; we're in an industry notorious for being way too inbred!
By inbred, I'm referring to the fact that everybody I know has at least one other company under their belt before whatever they're doing now. Use my own experience as an example. I started out working at Polaroid, then Hasselblad, followed by an Internet company and Rangefinder Publishing. At one point in the early '80s, at least five people from my Polaroid days worked at Fujifilm. While at Hasselblad, I wound up on the Board of the Center for Creative Photography. Who was chairman of the board? Peter Wensberg, past VP of Advertising at Polaroid.
Now, take anybody you know in the industry who's got a big secret and decides it's safe to tell just a handful of isolated people. Within a day or two, there might be hundreds who know about it, and even more damaging might be the consequences if word got out.
It's like playing the stages of the Kevin Bacon game. Take anybody who's been around more than ten years in photography, and I'm willing to bet you can connect them to almost anybody else in 3-4 stages.
So the moral of the story is, don't share your secrets unless you want them released. The best way to spread the news in the industry? Just tell somebody, "Please don't tell anybody but…"
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